By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Welcome to your new job, Brad Stevens. After you find a new head coach for the Boston Celtics, then you have to have to find a trade partner willing to take on Boston’s highest-paid player.READ MORE: Yankees Beat Red Sox 8-3, Cut Lead To 1
It should be an interesting few months for Stevens as he settles into Danny Ainge’s old office. After finding a replacement for himself, his first task will be finding a taker for Kemba Walker, who wants out of Boston halfway through the massive four-year, $141 million max contract he signed with the team in 2019. Finding someone to take Walker’s hefty contract and balky knee isn’t going to be an easy piece of business for Stevens, but in the NBA, anyone — and any contract — can be traded.
It’s not going to be a perfect solution for the Celtics, or Walker, who reportedly wants to go to a winning situation. But the two sides would be better off moving on from each other; the Celtics can hopefully get a more reliable player or two out of the mix and Walker can land with a team that won’t have to rely on him to be a max player every night (despite that max paycheck).
Stevens will probably have to attach a little sweetener to any deal, sending some young talent and a draft pick or two to whomever is willing to take on Walker. But it can be done. Teams won’t be knocking down Boston’s door for a 31-year-old undersized point guard who is set to make over $70 million over the next two seasons, but it can be done.
Here are a few teams that may be willing to take on Walker — for the right price.
A Walker-for-Kristaps Porzingis trade would work financially, and both are looking for a fresh start elsewhere. Walker would have much less to worry about with Luka Doncic running the show in Dallas, and Porzingis is feeling slighted as a sidekick in the Luka Show.
The big man might be a decent enough stretch big for Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, though it’d be a lot better if he’d go to the basket and pull down a few more rebounds. He’s also signed for three more years at over $100 million, so there goes any cap relief for a Boston team that could really use some of that in the next few seasons.
Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder are always looking to add to its massive collection of future draft picks and tradeable assets, even if it means taking on a big contract. And they just so happen to have another big contract to match Walker’s in Al Horford.READ MORE: Chargers-Chiefs Preview: Kansas City 'Shouldn't Be In Shootouts Every Week,' Says CBS Sports' Charles Davis
The former Celtics big man has two more years left on the giant four-year, $109 million deal he initially signed with the 76ers. He’ll make $52.5 million over the next two seasons, which would offer some relief for the Celtics. But again, it would cost them at least a first-round pick, and we’d have to go through all of that “Average Al” nonsense again — with Horford a few years older this time around.
New Orleans Pelicans
How about one bad contact for two smaller — but still pretty bad — contracts? A Kemba for Eric Bledsoe (one year at $18 million, plus an unguaranteed season) and Steven Adams (two years at nearly $35 million) swap may appeal to both sides.
Both players would fill roles on the Celtics, and Stevens may even be able to flip either in other deals. Plus, imagine all the Drew Bledsoe jerseys that would appear in TD Garden.
The Bulls just missed the playoffs this season, and will be aggressive in trying to get over that hump in 2021-22. Perhaps adding a former All-Star point guard to Zach Lavine and Nikola Vucevic will help their cause.
The Celtics would probably be able to get promising young guard Coby White in a package for Walker, with a combination of guard Tomas Satoransky and forwards Thaddeus Young and Al-Farouq Aminu filling out the transaction to make the money work.
The Clippers have Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, so they wouldn’t need Kemba to be on every night. They could afford to give him all the rest that he needs during the regular season.
In return, the Celtics could maybe land guards Patrick Beverley (which would make for a realllllll awkward locker room with both Bev and Marcus Smart) and Luke Kennard (a solid outside shooter who is signed for three more seasons, with an addition year as a club option) along with big man Ivan Zubac.MORE NEWS: SportsLine Week 3 NFC East Picks: Eagles Will 'Keep It Close In A Division Matchup,' Says SportsLine's Larry Hartstein
None of the options are particularly ideal, and the Celtics would be trading low with the majority of them. But they’re in a precarious situation with Walker, and chances are they’re not going to love whatever they get back for the point guard anyways.